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Neuroreceptor Mechanisms of Aggression and Its Treatment

Alan C. Swann, MD

Published: April 1, 2003

Article Abstract

Aggression results from the interaction of multiple systems. It can be classified as predatory, impulsive, or based on a medical condition. The likelihood of aggression is increased by environmentaloverstimulation or stress, transmitter balances favoring dopamine and excitatory amino acid transmissionover serotonin and γ-aminobutyric acid transmission, and the presence of problems related toimpulsivity. Treatments for aggression are based on the underlying causes and generally should combinepharmacologic and environmental or psychotherapeutic measures. Useful pharmacologic agentsinclude mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics that combine dopaminergic and serotonergic actions.Drugs acting on nicotine receptors may deserve further attention. Nonpharmacologic measuresinclude behavioral techniques aimed at reducing impulsivity, relapse prevention techniques for substanceabuse, and anger management techniques.

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